The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) is urging the state government to adopt policies that will provide rental assistance to landlords affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Damian Collins, president of REIWA, said while the guidelines provided by the Western Australia government are a big step to help the industry weather the economic shocks brought about by the outbreak, further help is needed to assist property owners who are struggling financially.

"Most other states have a rent assistance package in place — New South Wales announced a $440m package for residential and commercial tenants and owners. Western Australian tenants and property owners deserve a helping hand from the state government during this difficult time," Collins said.

The state governments of New South Wales and Queensland recently unveiled their respective relief package catered to both commercial and residential landlords and tenants. These packages are in the form of land tax deferrals for property owners and crisis payment for tenants.

For its part, the Western Australian government announced new laws, implementing a range of measures to minimise financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on tenants and landlords. The state's Residential Tenancies Bill 2020 will introduce a moratorium on eviction for six months and a prohibition on rent increases.

Collins said despite these initiatives, the policies provide no form of rental assistance that will help landlords whose finances are affected due to tenants not being able to pay rent.

"The government is expecting property owners to carry the burden, and while the debt is still payable by the tenant, in some cases, the property owner will never be able to recover the debt," he said.